Mechti Kuli Beg
28 cm x 20.3 cm (11 in. x 8 in.)
Aegidius Sadeler II (aka Gilles Sadeler)
(Antwerp, circa 1570 - 1629, Prague)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Mechti Kuli Beg was ambassador of the king of Persia to the court of Rudolf II at Prague. Sadeler’s engraving, part of the inscription explains, was based upon his own drawing from life. The print has a pronounced oriental flavor, not just because of the costume and Persian inscription, but due to the slight flattening of the bust and broadening of the arch that create a more uniform pattern. The portrayal is equally distinguished by its specific and sympathetic characterization of a non-European personality. In both regards, the print is unusual in Western art much before the mid 19th century. Its circumstance, to judge from the presence and prominence of the ambassador’s native tongue, was his commission of a work to be circulated both in Europe and at home.